The program for the historic Global Uprisings conference in Amsterdam (November 15-17) is now online.
NOTE: This is the program for events taking place at De Balie (the schedule may still be subject to change). Another program with events in social centers around the city will be made available by the organizers shortly. For more information on the conference and short bios of the participants, click here.
FRIDAY 15 NOVEMBER
Welcome from the Stichting Democratie en Media with an introduction and short film from the makers of the globaluprisings.org film series (Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh).
21.00-22.00: Opening Keynote from Paul Mason
Paul Mason is the current Culture and Digital Editor of Channel 4 News, having previously been economics editor of BBC2′s Newsnight, and is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books including Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere, a frontline report on today’s global revolts and revolutions. In this opening plenary, he will discuss his research on the causes of the current global uprisings and how these movements might lead to major social change.
SATURDAY 16 NOVEMBER
10:00-11:30: Opening Plenary
Origins of the Uprisings and Why They Haven’t Stopped
This panel is an introductory session that explores some of the underlying causes of the uprisings in a small selection of countries to draw out both the historical specificities of each place and the commonalities between them. The panel will explore what happened in Tunisia and Egypt where the Arab Spring first kicked off and present the latest uprisings in Brazil and Turkey to provide updates on the current situation. The panelists will offer their insights on why and in what way the resistance grew in the first place, and why it is still ongoing. This panel will provide a backdrop for the many discussions and experiences to be shared in the panels throughout the next two days.
- Azyz Amami (Tunis, Tunisia)
- Lobna Darwish (Cairo, Egypt)
- Victor Khaled (Florian, Brazil)
- Foti Benlisoy (Istanbul, Turkey)
Discussant: Antonis Vradis (Athens, Greece)
13:00-14:30: Three simultaneous sessions
1. Direct Action in the Housing Crisis
At the heart of the economic crisis has been the question of housing with unprecedented foreclosures and evictions of low-income, migrant and non-white communities, especially in Spain and the US. Housing has brought the problems of capitalism to the surface turning abstract questions of economy into questions of basic human rights and survival with an urgency that was not previously present. With empty homes in abundance and homelessness on the rise, the illegal act of placing people in these homes gains legitimacy in the eyes of the public, blurring the line between legality and legitimacy. In Spain, the foreclosure crisis has led to mass movements of thousands of people and public occupations of whole buildings organized through neighborhood assemblies. In the US the response has been to move families back into their foreclosed homes or to scout for other abandoned homes for the evicted families. In both countries the question of how to organize collectively around home evictions, how to prevent evictions, and how to do so as part of a larger political project for self-determination to ensure that people have more power over their most basic needs is an immediate and pressing concern.
- Elvira Mármol Aguilera (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, Spain)
- M Adams (Take Back the Land, US)
- TBA (the Netherlands)
Discussant: Max Rameau (Take Back the Land, US)
2. What do the Uprisings Mean for Feminist and LGBTQ Organizing?
This panel explores how activists have been organizing throughout the uprisings to raise awareness about gender inequality and to create safe spaces where everyone can be themselves and can take an active part in shaping our political future. In Egypt women came out onto the streets in large numbers during the revolution, but recently a new tool has been used against them to scare them off the streets: violent gang rapes during protests. The government has responded by blaming the women, saying they should have stayed at home. In the US there were many complaints during Occupy that the movements were not able to create safe spaces where everyone felt welcome. This panel explores how activists have been navigating this terrain not only to respond to exclusion and violence but to transform the political dynamics that create these hierarchies in our everyday lives.
- Ines Tlili (Tunis, Tunisia)
- Mariam Kirollos (Cairo, Egypt)
- Jill Richards (Oakland, US)
3. The Eurocrisis: Reports on Crisis and Revolt
While many mainstream news outlets and politicians across Europe try to tell us that the crisis will soon be over, unemployment rates continue to rise and austerity measures continue to have dramatic consequences on people’s ability to meet their basic needs. So far, some of the countries worst hit by the Euro-crisis have been Spain, Greece, and Portugal where sustained efforts to combat austerity measures have grown into radicalized mass movements of hundreds of thousands of people participating in general strikes, occupations, massive general assemblies, riots, campaigns to squat empty buildings, and a growing solidarity economy to meet their basic needs. This panel will look at the causes and consequences of Euro-crisis from the point of view of those who are living and organizing within the countries that have been worst hit.
- TPTG (Athens, Greece)
- Ricardo Noronha (Lisbon, Portugal)
- Ana Mendez de Andes (Madrid, Spain)
Discussant: John Clegg (London, UK)
15:30-17:00: Two simultaneous sessions
1. Experiments in Self-Organization: Squares, Neighborhoods, Factories
Over the past two and half years, a common organizing structure emerged in many of the neighborhoods, towns, cities and countries around the world. This structure became known as the ‘general assembly’: mass gatherings of people in public spaces where activists, workers, and communities could come together to make decisions in a less hierarchical and more decentralized way. This panel explores some of the many different forms of self-organization and horizontal decision-making that are being practiced around the world today to explore what the benefits and limitations of these models are as an organizing tool and as a alternative political structure. This panel will explore the radical content of these organizing models, which specific social relationships they challenge and how and why these models sometimes lose their content by looking at concrete examples of how they have functioned.
- Andrej Kurnik (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
- Aylin Kuryel (Turkey)
- Peter (Barcelona, Spain)
- Jasper Bernes (Oakland, US)
2. Networking Resistance in the Mediterranean
In late 2010, Tunisia lit the spark that exploded across North Africa and the Middle East. Uprisings spread to Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, to become known as the Arab Spring. While most western media painted the uprisings as fights for representative democracy, the actual causes were diverse and the aims much broader. From riots over the price of bread to anger about their regime’s support of Israel and the consequences of living under neoliberal economic policies, especially structural adjustment programs. The resistance inspired movements around the world and quickly travelled across the Mediterranean with the movement of the squares in Southern Europe in the summer of 2011. This panel looks on the one hand at why active networking and building connections, despite the simultaneity of these events, was not more widespread and on the other hand at what kind of networking and solidarity would be useful.
Rather than viewing networking as the coordination of protests, this panel attempts to look are how people can provide practical support for each other across nation-state borders as a way to break state-based narratives of social change. Some examples of local struggles will be presented with the aim to try and learn from those struggles what went right, what went wrong, and in light of that try and identify the struggle as broader than confined by nation-state borders. Over the past few years vast networks of practical solidarity have emerged, mostly on the local or national level. When governments do not provide people with the basic care they need (food, shelter, medical care, education, etc.) people build their own infrastructures (from food banks to whole sewage systems, connecting their own phone lines, building their own schools and mosques). This panel explores how networking across and beyond borders could help to support these local projects of self-determination.
- Philip Rizk (Cairo, Egypt)
- Budour Hassan (Palestine)
- DAF (Istanbul, Turkey)
- Luhuna Carvalho (Lisbon, Portugal)
Discussant: Ayça Çubukçu (London, UK/Turkey)
17:00-19:30: Film Program
Scenes from the Front Lines: A Collection of Short Films
This series of short films follows movements fighting austerity measures, repressive regimes, and right wing groups in the midst of economic crisis and authoritarianism. From Montreal to Cairo to Athens to Istanbul, this collection brings together the work of various filmmakers and video collectives to provide an insider’s view from the global political unrest that continues today as people around the world fight to build a new political and economic system. The films included are produced by innovative filmmakers and video activists: Ross Domoney, Global Uprisings, Mosireen, Submedia and more.
20:00-22:00: Closing Plenary
The Visibility and Invisibility of Social/Class Struggle in Times of Crisis
Keynotes: George Caffentzis and David Graeber
Discussant: Sabu Kohso
This plenary brings together two of the most important social theorists working on the topics of debt and resistance to discuss the social composition of the current revolt and different mobilizing factors within the crisis of capitalism. The discussion will deal with the difference between debt and wage struggles, domestic labour struggles, the class character of debt, and a review of previous debtors’ movements, their commonalities, and limits.
SUNDAY 17 NOVEMBER
11:00-12:30: Three simultaneous sessions
1. Urbanization and Revolt
While many of the uprisings of 2011 were against austerity, dictatorship and representative democracy at a time of economic crisis, recently uprisings have also taken place in countries with growing economies. In contexts of both economic growth and economic crisis, there is heavy investment in fixed capital projects such as bridges, roadways, construction, along with large scale urban renewal projects. A common rallying cry in these contexts of urban development and gentrification is the negative consequences of these projects for the people living within the affected communities and the unequal distribution of the economic benefits these projects supposedly produce. As governments and corporations attempt to impose urbanization and development in order to domesticate and transform people’s neighbourhoods, struggles over urban space have intensified. The form these struggles have taken, however, at times differs due to the history of each location. Some neighbourhoods have a long history of self-organization which has supported combative forms of resistance and has radicalized new movements. Struggles over public space have been central to the most recent movements where a key tactic has been the occupation of public squares, the creation of communes, temporary free-zones and challenging the way public urban space is policed and managed. This panel explores the many different way that urbanization and revolt are intertwined.
- Çiğdem Öztürk (Istanbul, Turkey)
- Gizele Martin (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
- Amanda (Santiago, Chile)
2. International Student Struggles
This session addresses the international wave of student movements against privatization and austerity that preceded and mushroomed during 2011 and how these movements led up to, fed into, and continue to organize during the current wave of international uprisings. The student movement has been a key galvanizing force bringing thousands of young people onto the streets at a time when they collectively feel that they are “without a future”. This session will address some of the consequences of having such a large international class of well-educated, unemployed, and in many cases heavily indebted, young people. Student movements have built strong connections with workers both within the Universities/Schools and beyond and have infused struggles against precarious labour. Looking at changes in the education system, we get a frightening, but essential picture of how social inequalities will look in the future as stipends are being cut and tuition is increasing, meaning that education is growing increasingly inaccessible to many. For those who can access it, they often graduate with enormous debt and no employment prospects.
- Silvia Gutiérrez (Valparaiso, Chile)
- Alia Al Ghussain (Sussex, UK)
- Jeremy Crowlesmith (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Discussant: Natacha López (Sweden)
3. Migration: creating divisions and exclusions through discourses of racism and nationalism disguised as ‘policy’
The free flow of capital in our world today stands in strong contrast to the boundaries, borders, walls, fortresses and detention centres we create to stop the free flow of people. At the current moment, the use of ‘migration’ and ‘migrants’ as the scapegoat for problems that have been created by banks, politicians and the financial system is pervasive in European politics. While hundreds of people are drowning at sea trying to reach Europe, those of us already in Europe are continuously told by our politicians and media that ‘migrants’ are to blame of our financial and social problems. As the crisis deepens, we see that this age old practice of blaming the foreigner, opens the door to the rapid growth of violent racism and the rise of Nazi-parties and right-wing groups in Europe in ways we would have deemed unimaginable after WWII. This panel explores some of the problems currently facing migrants (asylum seekers or otherwise) who have successfully made the journey to Europe.
- Carlos Delclos (Barcelona, Spain)
- Klara (Athens, Greece)
- TBA (Netherlands)
Discussant: Hara Kouki (Athens, Greece)
14:00-15:30: Two simultaneous sessions
1. Media and Communication Outreach
This session will explore the many ways in which movements relate to both mainstream and social media. How did the movements reach the wider public? How did they develop new technologies themselves? What forms of face-to-face communication were essential? The speakers represent a mix of experiences and positions vis-a-vis the media. Some of them engage with the mainstream media in creative and subversive ways, others develop humorous campaigns with a spectacular elements to attract the attention of the public as well as mainstream media, while still others develop alternative channels of communication to reach the public through social media, video and blogs or by designing software and hardware tools to facilitate communication within, between and from the movements.
- Not an Alternative (New York City, US)
- Leonidas Martin (Enmedio, Barcelona, Spain)
- Salma Said (Mosireen, Cairo, Egypt)
- Hassen Hajbi (Revolutionary Cultural Movement, Tunis, Tunisia)
Discussant: Jerome Roos (ROAR Magazine)
2. Reinventing the Strike
Over the past two years several new trends in strike organization have emerged. Instead of strikes that are organized through the mechanisms and leadership of trade unions, recently many strikes have been called for and coordinated by movements such as Occupy, the 15 May movement, the movement of the squares, anarchists, autonomists, and independent workers. This has resulted in “social” strikes that targeted not only production but also consumption with total shut down of large industry in and small businesses due to massive refusal to work, but also to consume. At the same time in countries where unions are heavily limited due to legal frameworks that forbid general strikes or cooperation between unions, movements such as occupy have successfully utilized loopholes in safety regulations to organize port shutdowns. The rise of the movements of the squares has created a new political force that can call for strikes and organize not only employed members of unions, but also the unemployed, non-unionized, and precarious workers. This panel focuses on these new trends and looks at how these can be coordinated and expanded in the future.
- Tim (Oakland, US)
- M (Barcelona)
- TBA (Greece)
- TBA (Egypt)
Discussant: Brandon Jourdan (Global Uprisings)
16:00-18:00: Closing Plenary
The Permanent Crisis
Keynote: Paul Mattick Jr.
The global economic crisis has affected nearly everyone in every corner of the globe. In his book Business as Usual, Paul Mattick Jr. explains the global economic crisis in relation to the development of the world economy since World War II, framing it also as a fundamental example of the cycle of crisis and recovery that has characterized capitalism since the early nineteenth century. In this closing plenary, Paul Mattick Jr. will discuss the ongoing crisis of capitalism and what it might mean for global social movements.